Last week marked the end of the shloshim, the thirty day period of mourning, for my mother. I can now shave and get my hair cut, if I’m told that my appearance warrants it, which I have been, and it does. I’ve also been told that my sadness should be diminished, and that my tears will no longer spontaneously flow. Everyone around me seems to accept that my mourning has ended, and that I can now once again resume my normal life, with, of course, the memory of my mother tucked neatly within my mind, to be called upon at nostalgic moments and yearly memorials.
I must not be experiencing my mourning process properly. My sadness is still great. My tears still flow, unless I hold them back, as I often do now, so as not to upset those around me, and myself. True, the intensity of the shiva has diminished, but the wound is still open, the pain still acute. I can’t ignore the fact that my mother is gone, forever. A month ago she was here, with me, full of hope and dreams, ready to share in the joys of life with husband, children, and perhaps, finally, the grandchildren that she so yearned for. Now she is gone. It hurts, still, even after thirty days. A song, a place, a figure of speech, a photo, a wedding video, can awaken the pain. The kaddish that I recite three times a day prevents me from forgetting, or rather, assures that I will remember, that I have lost my mother, the one person whose love was unconditional, instinctive, and eternal. I don’t think the sadness will ever go away. Perhaps it will become more manageable with time. Maybe after the year of kaddish. Maybe never.